Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Morning In The Life Of...

I wake up at 5:30, usually a few minutes before the wristwatch that I leave on a table near my bed for this sole purpose starts to ring its alarm. It's still very dark outside, although the stars are no longer visible, and I wrap the two-yard that I use for a bedsheet around my shoulders to ward off the unexpected coolness of the air. It actually gets cold at night during this part of the dry season, the Harmattan season when dusty winds from the Sahara blow fine grit everywhere and although the days are hot there is almost no humidity. The heat doesn't stay in the air, and when the sun goes down it immediately starts to cool down. By morning it's mildly chilly, in a pleasant way, although Ghanaians think I'm insane for walking around shirtless in this weather. That's okay, I think they're crazy for wearing autumn parkas during the same.

I stumble outside, cursing as I almost trip over my kitten, Patience, who invariably hangs out by the door waiting to come inside in the morning. She's tired from hunting in the grass in front of my house during the night and wants to warm up from the chill. I wrap the two-yard a little tighter and unlock the door to my kitchen, a concrete room outside the house, turn on the propane stove and boil some water for terrible Nescafe instant coffee. Afterwards I stumble back into the house and sit down with Patience for an hour or so to read or think.

I generally do about an hour's worth of exercises after the sun comes up but before the heat sets in. My abdominals are in better shape than before I left, but it's too bad about losing that fifteen pounds of muscle from my chest and arms. I'm rocking a kind of muscular scarecrow look.

After exercising I usually suit up and head downtown to get some breakfast and say hello to some of my acquaintances in town. It's good to be visible, to walk around and try out my terrible Twi. It's about a ten minute walk from the Habitat for Humanity community to the lorry station in the town proper where I can get some coco (a hot, sugary porridge made from fermented corn) from my coco lady or some cosi (a bean dough fried in vegetable oil) from Cynthia the cosi lady and spicy rice from Medelliana. I walk back the way I came and stop into Akosua's store to get the one or two Cedis worth of odds and ends I generally need in order to cook for the day. Akosua is the mother of my neighbor Naomi, who is married to my friend Julius who is teaching me a little bit about how to farm yams.

After eating I grab a bucket bath and start working. I have some tree seedlings growing, as well as the start of a decent compost pile and some vetiver grass rows. Everything needs water during the Harmattan, and will twice a day until the rains come back in March or April. I do laundry if necessary, wash dishes, dig soil, update my notes about what I'm learning, anything to keep working. It gets real hot at about ten and will get progressively hotter until around 4pm. I try to work until around noon, and then start making lunch...

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